Writer James Tynion IV's new Batman comic arc continues with Batman #90. As it turns out, "Their Dark Designs" Part 5 is the chapter of this mysterious new villain introduction story that actually introduces the new villain. In the book we get to finally meet The Designer, a masked "Master Criminal" who resides in a strange, supernatural-themed lair called Tartarus House. In an extensive flashback, we learn that early in Batman's career Designer gathered Catwoman, Penguin, Riddler and Joker together at Tartarus House for a brainstorming session. Unfortunately, bringing Joker turned out to be a fatally bad idea.
Warning: Batman #90 SPOILERS Follow!
As Catwoman recounts to Batman, it was during the rogues' visit to Tartarus House, and their respective conversations/planning sessions, that revealed Designer's true power. Through sheer imagination, deduction, and logic, the villain could essentially increase his own developmental evolution, exponentially. He used this dark ability to finally become a master criminal so advanced, that his longtime detective foe couldn't possibly outwit him or even conceive of the scope of his crimes. He can essentially break the endless cycle of evolution and adaptation between heroes and villains, and give the villains an insurmountable lead. As he proves to Batman's enemies, it's also a teachable skill.
By the end of the issue, we learn what kind of 'master plan' Designer had for Catwoman: stealing the entirely Wayne Family fortune, and all of its assets. However, we also get the tease of something much more ominous: the plan Designer created with The Joker.
It's never mentioned what horrific nightmare scenario Designer inspired in Joker, but what is made clear is the reaction it inspired in Designer. The Mastermind criminal was the first to see how Joker would evolve from colorful clown-themed villain into the living embodiment of chaos, death, nihilism and madness, and it freaked him out! Designer tried to have Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman killed on the spot, but the villains fought back, and Joker ended things by walking up behind Designer and blowing his brains out with a gun Joker had kept concealed from security (shocker).
Of course, calling this a major "kill" for Joker now seems somewhat dubious. The entire premise of "Their Dark Designs" is that Designer is somehow seeking revenge on Batman's rogues from the grave. With his creepy supernatural powers to animate the dead, and still unknown identity, we should be seeing Designer again real soon.
Batman #90 is now on sale from DC Comics.